No one says yes to a promotion with the goal of being a bad leader or awful boss, but might you be making mistakes that give you this reputation? What if a simple habit of behavior is preventing your next promotion? What if something you do daily and think nothing of is causing employees to talk about you behind your back? Before you scoff or say you don’t concern yourself with such things, take a look at these five potential errors in leadership judgment to see if there’s something simple you could do to change how they look at you.
Be Present with No Presence
If no one is ever sure you’re in your office, that’s a bad sign. But, it could be worse. If they saw you walk in but haven’t heard from you, have received no leadership guidance nor direction, and receive zero impact from your presence, that’s a problem. Leadership and management, though different concepts, are positions typically assigned to those with the know-how, expertise, or experience to guide others. If you’re not sharing any of your expertise or experience, someone lesser skilled (and less expensive to pay) could manage the administrative function of the position. Have a presence among the team that they miss when you’re not around.
Talk Out of Both Sides
Every leader has had to navigate the disconnect between their boss’s direction or the corporate line and their own personal opinion. However, when you are in a leadership role, is not the time to reenact how you handled this in high school. It’s not cool to tell an employee you don’t like the direction and then make them follow the very direction you just criticized. It creates confusion. It leaves a mixed message and it reveals an opportunity for the wrong employee to later take advantage of your candor. More importantly, if you’re going to be honest about your opinion, be authentic consistently or they’ll call you fake, consistently.
Ignore The Buzz
As someone who doesn’t watch the news on purpose, this one is a personal challenge. But the news and the grapevine work similarly. No matter how much you dislike the negative barrage of drama the news media uses to sell ads, there is a grain of truth in nearly every story. Ignoring the buzz in your office will put you in a position of being stunned when someone references a Zimmerman type of problem has erupted or a “We have a Caitlyn kind of situation” and HR is already involved. Leaders don’t do “stunned”. They stay in the know and keep their finger on the pulse. If you’re the boss with your head in the sand, prepare to the boss left out of the solution.
Once you become disengaged, with no finger on the pulse of the office buzz, no ear connected to the grapevine, and no presence in the office or team you’ve been charged with leading, the act of staying disengaged becomes a habit. Simply said, remove nose from grindstone. Walk around. Get involved. Engage.
There’s no question that a leader faces times riddled with stress. It can be tough to manage and depending on one’s personality, it can give even the best boss a trigger happy sense of wanting to lose it, often. If you’re flipping out on a regular basis, find a way to manage your own stress. If you’re flipping out with those who frustrate you the most, examine objectively if you truly have the right folks in the right seats on that silly bus reference. If you’re flipping out and apologizing for it profusely later, imagine the time you’d save if you breathed first before opening your mouth or showing them the look. There’s only so long that employees will tolerate a boss who has radical emotional mood swings and only so long that they’ll follow that boss, even if they’re not the ones in the know about that leader’s days being numbered.
Chances are you’re not that awful boss. Chances are you do the best you can to lead both you and others in every way, every day. But if you see yourself in any of the above ways, changes are afoot and need to happen fast. Once a boss is given the reputation for being awful, it will last.